Kenrick Park Estate and comprises four council-owned high rise blocks and associated external spaces. The scheme marks the end of the High Rise ‘Decent Homes’ Programme, a rolling programme of tower block refurbishment across the borough of Sandwell. A ‘High Rise Partnership’, composed of Sandwell Homes, Sandwell’s in-house design team, partner consultants and constructors, was set up in April 2006 to oversee the whole process of engagement and delivery. Since then, 25 blocks have been successfully transformed, providing thousands of families with hugely improved living conditions.

Typical of all these schemes, Kenrick Park Estate was in a poor state of repair, with on-going problems relating to parking and accessibility. DDA access was limited, and little separation existed between vehicles and pedestrians. Speeding cars through the site was of particular concern as was the privacy of residents in ground floor flats. Overall the site had lost its character and sense of place.

Re-organisation of the road layout allowed traffic calming measures to be implemented, and improvements made to both resident parking and access for refuse and emergency vehicles. Road narrowing techniques created the added benefit of more defensible space to ground floor flats. A new footpath network, drop kerbs and crossing points improved DDA access across the whole site, and wide, sweeping paving provided a more comfortable approach to the main pedestrian entrances. Smart new railings were installed to define the boundary and guide visitors into the site. Existing mature trees were retained to maintain impact and scale. Additional tree and shrub planting was woven around existing features to improve the landscape setting of the high rise buildings and to complement the colourful cladding of the newly refurbished blocks.

A planned programme of engagement with residents was carried out throughout the project phases, ranging from decision making by tenants as part of the design process, through to the creation of job opportunities for local people (Sandwell Council’s ‘Think Local’ initiative).

The finished scheme has provided massive improvements for tenants and created an attractive, eye-catching and rejuvenated estate. The sense of ownership has been restored, with residents delighted with the transformation.

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